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Predicting the Risk of Compassion Fatigue: A Study of Hospice Nurses

Abendroth, Maryann MSN, RN; Flannery, Jeanne DSN, ARNP, CNRN, CRRN, CCH

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: November-December 2006 - Volume 8 - Issue 6 - p 346-356

There is a growing interest in the clinical phenomenon of compassion fatigue and its impact on healthcare providers; however, its impact on hospice nurses is basically unknown. This study investigated the prevalence and the relationships between nurse characteristics and compassion fatigue risk. It also provided a model for predicting compassion fatigue risk. A non-experimental descriptive design using cross-sectional data and descriptive and inferential statistics was used. Nurses (N = 216) from 22 hospices across the state of Florida participated in the study. Findings revealed that 78% of the sample was at moderate to high risk for compassion fatigue, with approximately 26% in the high-risk category. Trauma, anxiety, life demands, and excessive empathy (leading to blurred professional boundaries) were key determinants of compassion fatigue risk in the multiple regression model that accounted for 91% (P < .001) of the variance in compassion fatigue risk. Knowledge of these variables may help organizations identify nurses at risk and provide interventions and preventions to maintain optimal nursing care.

Maryann Abendroth, MSN, RN, is on faculty as Assistant Professor in Nursing, Florida State University College of Nursing, Tallahassee, FL.

Jeanne Flannery, DSN, ARNP, CNRN, CRRN, CCH, is a Professor, Florida State University College of Nursing, Tallahassee, FL.

Address correspondence to Maryann Abendroth, MSN, RN, Florida State University College of Nursing, 419 Duxbury Hall, Tallahassee, FL 32306 (e-mail:

© 2006 The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association